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Las Vegas charter school provides blueprint for student success doing distance learning

Delta Academy has offered distance learning for years
Posted at 2:48 PM, Jul 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-27 17:52:19-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — We now know classes will be 100% online for Clark County School District students at the start of the school year. Some students, parents, and teachers worry this plan won't be nearly as effective as traditional, in-person learning.

13 Action News talked to a former student and current superintendent at Delta Academy, a tuition-free, public Las Vegas Charter School that's offered distance learning for years. They both believe the lessons they've learned could help a lot of students be successful when they begin learning from home in the fall.

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"Suddenly you’re completely online or just twice a week, it’s going to be a little scary at first, but it’s not as bad as it seems," said Maricela Nunez, a former Delta Academy student.

She'll admit, at first, she failed doing distance learning, partly because she procrastinated too much.

"I wasn’t used to it and all the work was just piling up and I couldn’t catch up," said Nunez.

But after learning her lesson in time management, now she wants to make sure kids in Clark County don't make the same mistake.

"Keep on track with it. As much as you feel like, 'ah, man, I can do it later. It’s online, whatever, you can catch up easily.' It begins to pile up. Trust me, I know it way too well," said Nunez as she let out a laugh.

"The traditional model is not for everyone just like the online model is not for everyone," said Kyle Konold, the superintendent of Delta Academy.

When the pandemic hit the U.S. in mid-march, it took Delta Academy about a day to transition hundreds of students to learning exclusively online.

"Since we've been doing this a long time, it was just really a natural switch," said Konold.

When it comes to distance learning, Konold says parents play a big role in setting their kids up for success, and it starts by setting a strict schedule.

"Just because the student is at home, doesn’t mean the student can sleep until 1 p.m.," he said.

"Let’s get the student up at a regular time, 8," he suggested. "Let’s hammer out a regular schedule. We’re doing English for the first hour, then we’re going to move on to algebra, and then we’re going to move on to science and take a break."

"There has to be a set schedule. It's structure. Kids thrive on structure," said Konold.

And both students and administrators agree, if you want to have any success teaching kids from a distance, communication is the key.

"If the parent doesn’t know exactly what’s going on and what the expectations are, then that support that a teacher has, which would be the parent at home to help out with the student, that’s not there because the parent doesn’t understand what the expectations are," said Konold.

"I understand that students might feel awkward talking to their teachers, especially through their cell phones or something. It’s going to be a little bit out of your comfort zone, but in the end, it’s really going to help, especially when it comes to your future and your diploma and grades," said Nunez.

Konold adds that it's going to take a strong support system to help students and parents overcome the difficulties that come with distance learning.